TEAM NEWS: Giroud benched as Diaby starts for Arsenal's clash with Manchester City

Olivier Giroud drops to the bench for Arsenal with Theo Walcott replacing him as central striker for Arsene Wenger’s side.

In defence, Per Mertesacker is dropped, as exclusively revealed by on Sunday, with Thomas Vermaelen returning to the starting lineup alongside Laurent Koscielny.

In midfield, Abou Diaby makes a return for the hosts with Mikel Arteta out of the side.

For City, Roberto Mancini has selected a midfield of Javi Garcia, Gareth Barry and James Milner, with Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and David Silva in attack.

Sergio Aguero remains sidelined through injury, while Mario Balotelli remains on the bench. Joe Hart returns to the starting line-up in place of Costel Pantimillion, having been rested from the first XI in last Saturday’s 3-0 FA Cup win over Watford.

Arsenal starting XI:
Szczesny; Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs; Diaby, Wilshere, Cazorla; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Walcott.

Subs: Mannone, Jenkinson, Santos, Mertesacker, Ramsey, Coquelin, Giroud.

Manchester City starting XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Garcia, Barry, Milner; Tevez, Silva, Dzeko.

Subs: Lescott, Sinclair, Kolarov, Pantilimon, Suarez, Rekik, Balotelli.

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